Nick Cave and Warren Ellis at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, WA

Luck of the Irish fell upon those in attendance for Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’ sold-out performance at Seattle’s historic Paramount Theatre on St. Patrick’s Day. 

The stage was romantically lit in hues of blue as Warren Ellis walked onto the stage, waving happily to the crowd making himself comfortable in his chair. Nick Cave entered in a dramatic fashion, yelling exuberantly and throwing fist pumps in the air. Lifting his hand to shield his eyes from the spotlight, he smiled and pointed to fans in the back of the theatre. 

Ellis then put his head down and started to play the first keys to the night’s opener “Spinning Song” from the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds album Ghosteen. While Cave & Ellis previously worked together in The Bad Seeds, this was their first tour as a duo to promote their collaborative album Carnage, released in February of 2021.

Moving gracefully along the edge of the stage, Cave stopped periodically to kneel over and serenade “and I love you” to dotting fans who seem to hang on this every word. Stretching his arms outward, his fingers dancing in the air, Cave’s fluid movements almost seemed like he was trying to part the clouds. Part spoken word, part performance art, “Singing Song” is an ode to the great performer and King of Rock and Roll. As the song approached the last verse, the overhead stage lights changed to yellow and the choir (Wendi Rose, Janet Ramus, and Jae Cole), dressed in shiny black and silver gowns, began to sing along with Cave and Ellis. With Cave’s arm left reaching, Ellis lifted his head as everyone repeated “Peace will come in time.”

The evening’s set continued with two more songs from Ghosteen, “Bright Horses” and “Night Raid.” Cave and Ellis paired perfectly together, as one would expect from bandmates who have collaborated since 1984. Cave took the piano, decorated with long stem roses, for the poignant “Carnage.” Illuminated with several rays of bright light created an elongated shadow of Cave’s arm that stretched along the walls to the balcony. The haunting song about recovering from loss and solitude brought a couple of tears as well as the first standing ovation of the night from the crowd.

As the slinky sounds of “White Elephant” emerged from the mixer a surge as fans ran to the front of the stage. One by one, fans rose from the vintage velvet seats, raised their hands, and clapped along. Without knowing the origins of “White Elephant” you might think the lyrics were written as a protest song. It’s actually a lyrical piece of artistic encouragement to his friend, Thomas Houseago, who was recovering from a mental breakdown. 

With the crowd fully warmed up, Cave and Ellis became more playful. At one point, Cave throws a rose to Ellis who tries to catch it but misses. Cave jokingly says into the mic, “We’ve been practicing that all f*cking day!” As the crowd laughs, Cave jumps up from his piano, spits on the floor of the stage, and paces a bit. “Alright, here we go!” and invites choir singer, Wendi Rose, to the front of the stage for “Lavender Fields.”

Before performing the T Rex cover of “Cosmic Dancer,” Cave spoke proudly of Ellis’ talents on the violin. “He’s f*cking good, look out!” The screams from the crowd encourage Ellis to finally stand from his seat and take a bow. During the cover, Ellis swayed back and forth while playing his violin and kicked both his legs into the air. Cave walked over to Ellis afterward and showered him with rose petals.

The most powerful moment of the evening came during “Hand of God” which created another surge of fans running to the stage. Cave crept along the edge of the stage and resembled a gothic preacher blessing his fans with his hands over their heads.

Ellis and the choir chanted “Hand of God, Hand of God” as fans leaned in closer with arms outstretched hoping to touch the hands of Cave. Cave broke character for a moment as he whispered, “Don’t touch me, hand of God, Don’t touch me.” The evening continued with more songs from Carnage and two encores.

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